Friday, June 15, 2007

Benefits are priceless

I'm curious for your take on this: Are you surprised that 61% of Canadians say they'd rather have health benefits for the year than $20,000 cash?

I'm certainly not. I think results speak to a very strong current of conservatism that people have when it comes to their financial lives. It's the same thing that makes GICs, savings bonds, catastrophe insurance and "balanced" mutual funds appealing. And I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing. I mean, I know that it's unlikely I'd ever incur medical costs more than $20,000 in a year, so it seems rational to take the cash. Yet I don't even think I would, if presented with the choice, and I'm allegedly in the "prime of my life" in my twenties.

I guess there's no accounting for the security of knowing it's there. It lets people sleep at night. As the survey suggests, 95% of the respondents knew they were unlikely to spend more than $20,000 in a year on health, but they'd take the benefits over cash anyway.

My own employment situation is something of a weird hybrid in that I'm a contract worker (no vacation, etc.) but I have the option to opt-in to the company's benefits plan, which I have done.

I realize the source of this survey (drug company Sanofi-Aventis) obviously skews the objectivity of the results ("A health care company saying health care is important? No way!) but nonetheless, I think these are interesting results.


FourPillars said...

I was going to post on this..but u beat me to it!

Personally I think benefits are way overvalued - I just don't think most people ever sit down and see what $$ value they use.

$20k/year? Even if you only net half of that as income I would take it in a second

Mr. Cheap said...

I think a lot of this comes from the fact that the "upside risk" is virtually unlimited with health costs. There are diseases that people could contract that would wipe out 99.9% of the population's personal savings.

Personally I'd love to have health insurance with a massive deductible (say $20K). Then most years I'd be saving money, and if I ever contracted something that would be REALLY expensive, I'd have the insurance to cover it (basically I take a "protection against catastrophic loss only" perspective on insurance).